Social Learning Theory:
Albert Bandura of Stanford University first suggested the Social Learning Theory as a reaction against the passive conception of humans in behaviorism. (He believed that reducing behavior as "stimulus-response" was much too simplistic... he refers to himself as an adherent of social cognitivism.)
- The model can intentionally try to teach an agent how to behave. Examples: teachers, parents, priests
- The model might not try to directly affect the agent. Examples: actors, media, television, passersby
The Social Learning Theory involves the following factors for an agent to be successful in imitating a model:
- Attention: the model performing the act must catch the attention of the agent
- Retention: the agent must be able to remember how the model was acting
- Motor reproduction: the agent must be able to emulate what he observed from the model
- Motivation: the agent must will to perform the observed act
There are also factors that influence the agent's motivation to emulate the observed model:
- Likeness: agents will feel more motivation to emulate a model if they feel alike it it
- Consistency: agents are more likely to copy consistent behavior
- Rewards / punishments: these will act as incentives / deterrents to copy a model (respectively)
- Liking the model: the more an agent likes the model, the higher the chances are that the agent will emulate the model
- E X A M P L E -
Albert Bandura et al. 1961 - Bobo Doll Experiment
- Aim: To see whether children would imitate aggression that they observed modelled by at adult (Social Learning theory). Also, to see whether the gender-likeness of the model would influence the aggression in the children.
- Procedure: Children from the ages of 3-6 years old were used for this study. They were divided into groups depending on their level of aggression, classified by their teachers and their parents. One group of children observed a video of an adult repeatedly beating a Bobo doll.
A second group of children simply saw a video of an adult assembling toys in a room.
A third group saw no video (control group)
*In groups 1 and 2, some children saw same-sex models while others saw different gendered models.
After watching the video, the children were placed in a room with toys and told the toys were for different children. They were then taken to another room with a Bobo doll.
- Results: Group 1 (that observed the aggressive model) was the most aggressive group. They expressed physical and verbal aggression. Female subjects were more prone to exercise verbal aggression while male subjects exercised physical aggression. They displayed signs of observational learning.
When the boys saw the female models in the video hitting the Bobo doll, they exclaimed: "Hey! Girls shouldn't act like that!"... thus the agents / subjects were more prone to emulate same-sex models.